Ryan says the properties the company wants to tear down are salvageable. “Remember, these buildings have been held for 30 years by three different sets of millionaire developers,” Ryan said. “They’ve never been owned by people who couldn’t afford to do repairs, or absentee landlords.”
George Apfel, left, and Kevin Hayes arrange recycled art and furniture created by artisan Shawn Faulkner at the new ReUse Action store at 980 Northampton St. in the city’s Fillmore section, near the Milk-Bone factory. It’s being called Guild @ 980. Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News
“I want this place to be a service to the community,” Gainer said. “I can’t just have old expensive stuff.”
In addition to the reclaimed products, the store sells consignment antiques, as well as artwork, refinished furniture and home products made using reclaimed materials by local artists.
Gainer expects to begin filling the second floor with inventory soon, and has plans to turn the third floor into an incubator of relevant workshops – affordable space where glazers, reupholsterers and other artisans can open up shop and offer compatible services to the store’s customers.
“A lot of these buildings don’t make the cut because they are just so old and so dilapidated that the numbers don’t work without this revolving loan fund that we’ve put together. It’s a perfect example of a public-private partnership,” Cohen said Friday.
The Buffalo Building Reuse Project provides gap financing of up to $750,000.
The Land Bank buys a vacant property that is still valuable and “banks” it for rehabilitation, or demolition to be re-sold and returned to the tax rolls.
“The entire community starts picking itself up once you start removing the blight,” says Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski.
The mayor says the Land Bank is helping his city, which he says can no longer afford to “fight the blight” on its own.
“With the Land Bank, we will be able to refurbish homes that are not in blighted condition, refurbish them, and sell them to somebody who wants to become a responsible homeowner,” he explained.
Another Buffalo church has found new life as residential space. Creative Structures Services (css), a general contracting, project management and development firm headed by David Pawlik and Russell Kyte, has recently finished work on the former Buffalo Covenant Church at 786 Kenmore Avenue.
The owner of this house on Hopkins Road in Getzville has donated it to Buffalo ReUse. The organization would like to dismantle the house and reassemble it at another location.
“I’ve decided that there is too much local talent that needs to be promoted here in Buffalo,” Jonathan told me.
“After spending time lending my design talent at the Junior League of Buffalo Decorator’s Show House, for example, I am constantly running into furniture designers who appeal to my own taste, and I feel that I can offer them a place to exhibit their work.
“I am carrying tables made out of antique rail carts, repurposed windows that have been turned into works of art, and even cutting boards with unique flair (by Juliet Root). I mix these reinvented pieces in with my retro furniture and I then have the best of both worlds – a place to shop for vintage pieces, and a gallery for some of the area’s most unique artisans.”
Hall’s favorite medium to work is wood and he is often inspired by historic pieces. “When I’m creating pieces of furniture, I always investigate past designs. How can I improve them?” he asks, “What, if any, is a problem within the design? History is always present if reclaimed materials are used, as I see it. I recently made a custom countertop made of hemlock from a balloon style built house that was built in 1819. Boards of this size and species today are almost unheard of, my estimation would make the age of that piece close to 300 years old. I milled the piece down, sawed it into smaller widths, added some details and glued the piece back together; that tree has been reborn.”
Recently during one of my weekly walks around Buffalo, I stumbled upon something special on the East Side. Two young, creative artists and friends who have set up shop off Broadway just outside of downtown were hard at work getting their woodworking shop in order. Nathaniel Hall and Eric Jude Mott were nice enough to take me on a tour of their building at 343 Hickory Street. They currently occupy the first floor primarily, but are working on making repairs and alterations to the second floor for a unique gallery and living space. They have been in the space since September of last year.